UK Ancestry Visa


Ancestry Visa

An Overview of Ancestry Visa

The UK Ancestry Visa is a unique entry route into the United Kingdom, designed specifically for Commonwealth citizens who can trace their heritage back to the UK. This visa offers a path to not only live in the UK but also work and potentially settle in the longer term. The UK’s rich historical ties with its former territories open a door for descendants to explore, work, and live in the land of their ancestors.

Who is this Visa For?

The UK Ancestry Visa is catered to individuals from Commonwealth nations or territories who have a grandparent born in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or, before March 31, 1922, in what is now the Republic of Ireland. Moreover, citizens of Zimbabwe and certain categories of British nationals can also apply for this visa. This visa route is not just a journey to explore your ancestral roots but a ticket to a myriad of opportunities in one of the world’s most developed nations.

Purpose of the Visa

The primary purpose of the UK Ancestry Visa is to allow eligible individuals to work, study, and live in the UK. Holders of this visa have the freedom to undertake employment, whether it’s paid or voluntary, full-time or part-time. They can also venture into self-employment or start a business. It’s a chance to build a life in the UK, embracing the culture, opportunities, and the living standards it offers.

This visa serves as a bridge connecting individuals to their ancestral roots, enabling them to explore the land of their forebears while contributing to the UK’s vibrant and diverse society. Moreover, it’s a step towards long-term residency and potentially settling in the UK permanently. The UK Ancestry Visa is valid for 5 years, after which visa holders can either extend it for another 5 years or apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK, paving the way towards making the UK their permanent home.

The UK Ancestry Visa is more than just a travel document; it’s a pathway to a life full of possibilities in the UK. It extends beyond mere immigration; it’s about connecting with one’s roots, making meaningful contributions to the UK society, and enjoying the high standard of living that the UK offers.

What Can You Do On this Visa?

The UK Ancestry Visa opens up a realm of opportunities for its holders. Once in the UK, you can work, seek employment, or even become self-employed, thus contributing to the economy. You’re also allowed to study in any of the country’s reputable institutions. Additionally, you can bring your family, including a partner and children, along with you, fostering a sense of togetherness while exploring a new culture and lifestyle. Over time, you might also be eligible to apply for an extension or for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK, paving the way towards establishing deeper roots in the country.

What You Cannot Do On this visa

On an Ancestry Visa, there are certain restrictions to be aware of while residing in the UK. You cannot access public funds, which means benefits or public housing aren’t available to you. Additionally, you cannot change (switch) to this visa from any other visa category while you are already in the UK. Moreover, unlike some other visa types, the Ancestry Visa doesn’t lead directly to settlement, although it can be a stepping stone towards applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) later on. Understanding these limitations is crucial to ensure a lawful stay and to plan your life accordingly during your time in the UK.


Elucidating the Eligibility Criteria For Ancestry Visa

For Ancestry Visa, it is paramount to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria set forth by the UK government for the Ancestry Visa. The criteria are straightforward and are primarily aimed at ensuring the genuineness of the case.

The UK Ancestry Visa is a pathway for Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent born in the UK to live, work, and study in the country. Here are the key eligibility criteria for this visa:


  1. Age: Applicants must be aged 17 or over​​.
  2. Commonwealth Citizen: You must be a Commonwealth citizen and able to provide proof of this status​​.
  3. Grandparent Born in the UK: It’s essential to provide evidence that one of your grandparents was born in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man​​.
  4. Employment: You should have plans to work in the UK and be capable of doing so​​.
  5. Financial Sufficiency: It’s crucial to have sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependents without relying on public funds from the UK​​.

These eligibility criteria ensure that applicants have a genuine ancestral connection to the UK and are capable of contributing to the economy.


Navigating the Application Process For the UK Ancestry Visa

Applying for the UK Ancestry Visa is a step-by-step process that requires a thorough understanding and careful attention to each phase to ensure a successful application. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the procedure:

  1. Research and Preparation:

    • Prior to initiating the application process, it’s crucial to conduct thorough research to understand the eligibility criteria, necessary documents, and the overall process.
    • Prepare all the necessary documentation including proof of Commonwealth citizenship, evidence of a grandparent born in the UK, and financial documentation to prove self-sufficiency.
  2. Online Registration:

    • The first official step in the application process involves registering and completing the online application form on the UK government’s official website.
    • During this step, ensure that all the information provided is accurate and reflects your current circumstances.
  3. Document Preparation:

    • Prepare a file with all necessary documents as per the checklist provided on the official website.
    • It may include your current passport, birth certificates, financial statements, employment contract, or offer letter, among other documents.
  4. Biometric Information Submission:

    • After the online registration, schedule an appointment to provide your biometric information which includes fingerprinting and a photo.
  5. Appointment at the UK Visa Application Center:

    • Attend a scheduled appointment at the nearest UK Visa Application Center.
    • During this appointment, your documents will be reviewed, and you may be asked to provide additional information if necessary.
  6. Payment:

    • Pay the required visa application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge.
    • It’s advisable to check the latest fees on the official website to ensure the accurate amount is paid.
  7. Document Submission:

    • Submit all your documents either during your appointment or as instructed on the official website.
    • Ensure that all documents are submitted in the prescribed format to avoid any delays in processing.
  8. Tracking:

    • After submission, you can track the status of your application online using the reference number provided.
    • Stay updated on the progress and respond promptly to any additional requests for information from the visa office.
  9. Decision:

    • Once your application has been reviewed, you will be notified of the decision.
    • It can either be an approval, a request for more information, or a denial with reasons provided.
  10. Visa Stamping:

    • If approved, your passport will be stamped with the UK Ancestry Visa, and you can then proceed to plan your travel to the UK.
  11. Travel Planning:

    • With the visa secured, commence your travel plans, book your flight, and make living arrangements in the UK.
    • It’s advisable to also look into opening a UK bank account and registering with a local GP once you arrive.
  12. Arrival in the UK:

    • Upon arrival, adhere to all the legal obligations and regulations as stipulated by your visa.
    • Engage in the necessary reporting procedures, and ensure to uphold the conditions of your visa throughout your stay.
  13. Extension or Indefinite Leave to Remain:

    • If you wish to extend your stay or apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), start the process well ahead of your visa expiry date.
    • Familiarize yourself with the requirements and process to ensure a smooth transition to your next immigration status.
  14. Maintaining Compliance:

    • It’s essential to maintain compliance with the terms of your Ancestry Visa, including any reporting requirements.
    • Stay informed about any changes in immigration law that might affect your status and take the necessary actions to remain compliant.
  15. Seeking Legal Advice:

    • If at any point you encounter challenges or have questions regarding your visa application or status, it’s advisable to seek legal advice from a reputable immigration lawyer.
  16. Continuous Documentation:

    • Keep a well-maintained file of all your documents, correspondence with the visa office, and any legal advice received.
    • Having organized documentation will be beneficial for any future immigration applications or inquiries.

This comprehensive guide aims to navigate you through each step of the UK Ancestry Visa application process, ensuring a well-prepared and well-informed approach towards securing your visa and planning your journey to the UK.


Studying a Course in the UK Under Ancestry Visa

Under an Ancestry Visa, pursuing education in the UK is entirely feasible and can be an enriching experience. This visa provides the flexibility to enroll in a course of study at any of the UK’s prestigious institutions. Whether it’s a short-term course, professional certification, or a full-length degree program, the choice is vast. It’s a chance to enhance your skills, meet people from around the globe, and experience a diverse and inclusive educational environment.

However, it’s essential to ensure your finances are in order as the Ancestry Visa doesn’t grant access to public funds, which includes student loans and grants. You’ll need to secure private funding or scholarships for tuition and living expenses.

While studying, you’re also permitted to work, whether it’s part-time during term or full-time during vacations, which can help offset your living costs. This dual opportunity to study and work under an Ancestry Visa can pave the way for a well-rounded and enriching experience in the UK.


Getting Married Under the UK Ancestry Visa

Under the UK Ancestry Visa, individuals are allowed to get married or enter into a civil partnership. It’s a visa that provides a fair degree of flexibility, allowing for important life events such as marriage. You can thus plan your wedding, invite your loved ones, and celebrate this significant milestone while residing in the UK.

Moreover, if you’re already married or in a civil partnership, your partner can come to the UK with you as your dependant. This provides an opportunity for couples to stay together and explore life in a new country.

However, while the Ancestry Visa permits marriage, it’s crucial to adhere to all legal requirements and ensure that all documentation is accurately provided to the UK authorities when needed. This may include marriage certificates or proof of your relationship. Adhering to the legal processes will ensure a smooth experience as you navigate this personal chapter under the UK Ancestry Visa.


UK Ancestry Visa If You're Under 18

Being under 18 and applying for a UK Ancestry Visa involves a few additional steps to ensure safeguarding and compliance with the UK immigration rules. Firstly, parental consent is a requisite. The authorities need assurance that the guardians are aware of and agree with the minor’s intention to move to the UK.

Furthermore, the same eligibility criteria apply, such as proving a grandparent was born in the UK and having sufficient funds to support oneself. However, the financial responsibility mostly falls upon the guardians to provide evidence of funds to support the minor throughout their stay.

Additionally, under-18 applicants might need a UK-based guardian appointed, especially if they are to study in the UK. This guardian would act as a local point of contact and have some responsibility for the minor’s welfare.

Lastly, minors on an Ancestry Visa should have clear plans, such as educational enrolment, to justify their stay in the UK. Each case may be reviewed individually to ascertain the minor’s safety, support system, and the genuine intent behind applying for the visa.


After You Have Applied for the Visa

After applying for a UK Ancestry Visa, await confirmation. It may take up to three weeks or longer, so be patient. Keep track of your application status online. Meanwhile, start preparing for your trip by researching about local customs, laws, and places you’d like to visit. It’s also essential to organise travel insurance covering health, travel delays, and losses. If you’ve not booked your flights and accommodations, wait and DO NOT buy ticket until your visa is approved to avoid potential losses. Remember to pack essential documents, including your passport with your visa, proof of financial sustenance, and return tickets. Lastly, make sure your passport validity extends beyond your travel dates.

Visa Fee and Processing Time

The fee for the UK Ancestry Visa as of 2023 is £637, with an additional healthcare surcharge that applicants need to pay as part of their application process, with a healthcare surcharge of £624 per year, adding up to £3,120 over a five-year visa term​​. It’s essential to check the latest fees on the official UK government website to ensure accurate payment. The healthcare surcharge is expected to be double from 2024.


The standard processing time for the UK Ancestry Visa is approximately 3-8 weeks when you apply from outside the UK​​. However, the exact time can vary, and it’s advisable to apply at least three months before your intended travel date to allow ample time for processing. If you need a faster decision, there are options to pay for priority services, which will expedite the processing time, although the exact time frame for expedited processing is not specified in the sources reviewed.


It’s crucial to keep abreast of the latest information directly from official resources or reputable immigration consultants to ensure a smooth application process.

Tracking Progress on Your Visa Application

Though there is no standard and easy way to track your visa application, you can ask for the concerned authorities for an update on your visa application. But you should not expect a quick response.

Getting a Decision on the Visa Application

In most of the cases you are informed about the decision on your visa application by the email for which the email address you gave during your visa application, is used. If you have requested an SMS alert service, you will also get an alert about the completion of your visa application processing process through an SMS.

What to Do if the Visa is Refused

In this visa category you don’t get a right of appeal or an administrative review.  This means that the only option for you is to try to remove the objection and apply again (unless you were refused with 720A).


Q1: Can I extend my UK Ancestry Visa, and how do I go about it?

A: Yes, you can apply for an extension of your UK Ancestry Visa as long as you continue to meet the eligibility criteria. The extension application can be done online through the UK government’s official website, where you’ll need to fill out the required form and submit the necessary documents.

Q2: Can I switch to a different visa category while on an Ancestry Visa?

A: It’s possible to switch to a different visa category, provided you meet the eligibility criteria for the new visa category. It’s advisable to consult with an immigration lawyer to understand the process and implications of switching visa categories.

Q3: What happens if my circumstances change after I've been granted an Ancestry Visa?

A: If there are significant changes in your circumstances, such as change in marital status or employment, you should inform the UK Visas and Immigration office. Depending on the nature of the change, it may affect your visa status.

Q4: What kind of healthcare access do I have on an Ancestry Visa?

A: Once you pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your visa application, you’ll have access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) similar to a UK resident.

Q5: Can I bring my dependent family members if they are not Commonwealth citizens?

A: Yes, your dependent family members such as your spouse and children under 18 can join you in the UK regardless of their nationality.

Q6: Can I start a business on an Ancestry Visa in the UK?

A: Yes, the Ancestry Visa allows you to be self-employed or start a business in the UK, provided you meet any additional regulatory requirements for business operations.

Q7: Is there a language requirement for the UK Ancestry Visa?

A: There isn’t a specific language requirement stated for the Ancestry Visa; however, it’s beneficial to have a good command of English to ease your integration into UK society.

Q8: What are the travel restrictions, if any, on an Ancestry Visa?

A: There are no specific travel restrictions; you can travel in and out of the UK. However, spending too much time outside the UK may affect your eligibility for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Q9: Can I apply for British citizenship while on an Ancestry Visa?

A: Yes, after spending a certain number of years in the UK and meeting other eligibility criteria, you can apply for British citizenship.

Q10: In case of visa denial, is there a possibility to appeal the decision?

A: If your Ancestry Visa application is denied, there may be an option to appeal the decision or apply for an administrative review, depending on the reasons for denial. It’s advisable to consult with a legal professional to understand your rights and the next steps.

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